The Lebanese Information Center (LIC) strongly condemns the recent violations of freedom of expression in Lebanon. Multiple infringements by the Government of Lebanon (GOL) on this sacrosanct right, which is explicitly guaranteed by Lebanon's constitution, make a mockery of the very foundations of its democracy. Such politically-motivated censorship evokes memories of the illiberal era under Syrian occupation and threatens to mold Lebanon in the image of authoritarian regional countries like Iran.
The Lebanese Information Center (LIC) in Washington has been closely following the latest diplomatic developments in Lebanon and the region, particularly those linked to the maritime border dispute with Israel. LIC President Dr. Joseph Gebeily just returned from a trip to Lebanon, where he discussed this issue and its potential diplomatic resolution with government representatives, political figures, and leading security force commanders. This critical period could be a turning point for Lebanon economically and politically, but it is vital that all parties proceed with levelheadedness.
The LIC reaffirms its position that all parties must respect Lebanon's sovereignty and independence, which are to be defended by the sole authority of the Lebanese state. Lebanon has a right to develop its resources and begin oil and gas exploration within its demarcated maritime borders and in accordance with international laws and conventions. As the nature of Lebanon's border dispute shifts to a resource-focused one, it is crucial that UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, which mandate disarming Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, are fully implemented.
The LIC stressed these positions during a range of recent meetings with U.S. officials in Washington, at the State Department, the Department of Defense, and with White House-National Security Staff as well as with relevant congressional committees.
The LIC deeply appreciates the U.S. administration's continued support to Lebanon, through military, security, and economic assistance that has amounted to several billion dollars in recent years. We welcome Secretary Tillerson’s positions during his latest visit to Lebanon and appreciate Assistant Secretary Satterfield’s tireless efforts to mediate between Lebanon and Israel over drilling rights.
At the same time, we strongly condemn the hostile stances expressed by Iran's proxies in Lebanon against the United States. These proxies prioritize Iran's ambitions, not Lebanon’s wellbeing and economic future. They are primarily concerned with furthering Iran’s political agenda in Lebanon and the region, at the expense of Lebanon's core interests and U.S. mediation efforts.
In addition to its appeals to U.S. officials and other friends of Lebanon, the LIC calls on Lebanese officials to:
- Extend the Government of Lebanon's control to all Lebanese territory, both land and sea;
- Commit to the disbanding and disarming of all militias;
- Employ all diplomatic and political means to engage the international community in helping Lebanon resolve territorial disputes with neighboring countries; and
- Cooperate with the U.S.'s mediation efforts and take full advantage its expertise and willingness to play this role.